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Kazuki Yoshinaga wins 1,500m in short track World Cup opener

Kazuki Yoshinaga won the men’s 1,500 meters in the season-opening short track World Cup in Calgary on Saturday.

According to the International Skating Union, the 19-year-old Chukyo University student is the first Japanese male in 17 years to win an individual title on the World Cup circuit.

Naoya Tamura is the last Japanese to accomplish the feat, having won the 1,000 meters at the Amsterdam meet in December 2001.

Yoshinaga clocked 2 minutes, 17.285 seconds to finish ahead of South Korea’s Lee June Seo and Israel’s Vladislav Bykanov at the high-altitude Calgary Olympic Oval in Canada.

“It’s a big surprise for me. This is my first senior medal on the world stage,” Yoshinaga was quoted as saying on the ISU website.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but I knew that the ice is really fast here, and I have strong legs which give me a lot of control, so I had belief. My positioning for the last three laps in the final was really good, so I just thought to myself ‘I can, I can, I can.’ “